LETTER: Infertility is an illness and the NHS should provide treatment

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From Dr David Joyce

Sir: "Pregnancy is not an illness. Therefore the treatment for IVF should not be treated as an illness on the NHS". This quotation from a senior Labour source (report, 18 April), in addition to alienating the infertile, should also offend the rest of the population. Are we to expect a Labour government to privatise or abolish the maternity services, abortion services and family planning clinics, as they too are directly related to pregnancy?

Inability to conceive should be seen in a similar light to inability to see, to hear or to walk, or for that matter to control sugar levels in the blood (ie diabetes). It is a failure of one of the fundamental functions of life, and one causing immense distress and often psychological illness.

While welcoming the sympathetic stance of your related leading article, may I point out that modern studies show that at least one in seven (not one in 10) couples experience difficulty in conceiving, and that established IVF centres now expect pregnancy rates per treatment cycle nearer one in three than one in eight (which was the national average figure in 1990).

Yours faithfully,


Director of Infertility Services

Southmead Hospital


18 April